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Edward Field papers

Identifier: MSS 0363

Scope and Contents

The Edward Field papers consist of twenty-one linear feet of Field’s personal and literary papers which document his life and writing career from 1943–1994. The papers contain correspondence, photographs and negatives, poems, prose, book reviews, clippings, posters, programs, financial papers, address books, calendars, interviews, books, magazines and journals, flyers, plays, and ephemera. The collection comprises three large series: I. Writing by Edward Field, II. Personal and Professional Correspondence, and III. Personal Papers.

Although the majority of the collection records Field’s work as a poet, his papers document all aspects of Field’s writing, including his work as an editor, essayist, narrator, collaborator on popular novels, and as a journal keeper. Drafts of Field’s poems (the files of worksheets and his send-out files of poems are extensive), articles, reviews, as well as his journals are organized in the first series of the collection. Field’s published work in books, anthologies, magazines, audio recordings, and journals is also represented in the series, as well as his collection of work by other poets, particularly poets in the Long Beach, California, area. Edward Field has been credited with beginning a poets’ movement in this region and evidence of his supportive relationship with many of these poets is found in correspondence which is available in the second series.

Publication files and drafts for the anthologies of poetry edited by Field, poems written about Field, illustrations for some of his poems, and notes for his poetry workshops, and even fragments of drafts for his attempts at play writing complete Series I. The publication files for the anthology A New Geography of Poets includes correspondence with a number of noted American writers, including X. J. Kennedy, Ishmael Reed, James Dickey, James Purdy, and Sharon Olds, to name just a few.

The journals (typescript pages and autograph notebooks), kept by Edward Field between 1963 and 1993, combine diary entries and travel logs, as well as serving as a place for jotting ideas for and drafts of poems and essays. Intensely personal, the journals reflect Field’s daily concerns and conflicts, as well as his craft as a poet.

Within the journals are Field’s descriptions of his reading tours and travels to Europe, his introspective ruminations about his life and relationships to his family and friends, records and interpretations of his dreams, speculations about his health and lists of physical symptoms, and reflections on human sexuality. Field’s journals contain drafts of autobiographical essays, articles about friends (including Alfred Chester), and numerous poems which are directly connected to thoughts and emotions expressed in the journals. The journals reveal the close connection between the poet’s work and his life.

The second series of the papers, Personal and Professional Correspondence, further develops the connection between Field and his poetry. The professional correspondence includes mailing lists, permission files for publication of his poetry, “send-out” files related to Field’s submission of poems, articles, or reviews to various magazines and journals for publication, and files related to appearances and publicity. These files reflect the tenacious effort demanded of a contemporary poet who seeks to have his work published.

Field’s personal correspondence documents his associations with numerous friends and his support of other writers (particularly young poets) through encouragement and letters of reference. Distinguished literary persons such as Paul Bowles, James Dickey, William Carlos Williams, Langston Hughes, Conrad Aiken, Allen Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, James Purdy, Gore Vidal, Kay Boyle, and Diane Wakowski are among Field’s correspondents. One letter from William Carlos Williams is a notable early endorsement of Field’s work. Letters received from other admirers of his poetry relate their high regard for his work.

Letters from some of his poet-friends, such as Ron Koertge, Steve Kowit, Naomi Lazard, Gerald Locklin, Millen Brand, James Broughton, Robert Friend, Arthur Gregor, and May Swenson, reflect those writers’ personal lives, discuss their current writing projects, and, in some cases, consider Field’s poetry.

Although many of Field’s correspondents are poets, his friendship extends to numerous other writers, artists, and scholars, such as anthropologist Tobias Schneebaum. Topics in these letters are as diverse as the writers’ interests, from Schneebaum’s reflections on the sexual rites of primitive tribes to Israeli resident Robert Friend’s first-hand observations on Israeli-Arab interactions. Letters from several correspondents reflect aspects of contemporary gay culture and personal struggles related to expression of this sexual preference.

Photographs of the correspondents, poems written by them, clippings, booklets, or ephemera are enclosed in some letters. The folder descriptions indicate when such items are present. Held common by many of the correspondents is a respect for Edward Field, his work, and a gratitude for the encouragement he offers.

Among the Personal Papers of Edward Field, in the third series, are identification and membership cards, address books, his application for a Guggenheim Fellowship, programs related to Field’s brief acting career, articles which mention Field, information about awards he has received, two appointment calendars, numerous photographs, and selected financial papers.

The financial papers for 1971–1993 include some of Field’s bank books, banking and tax records, credit card statements, correspondence and records regarding housing arrangements at Westbeth, and statements of investments.

Over four hundred and seventy photographs depicting Field, his family, and friends are available in this series. In addition to more than one hundred and thirty photographs of Field (including some professional portraits and contact sheets), there are photographs of his companion Neil Derrick, his parents (Louis and Hilda), and his siblings. Snapshots of Field’s nieces, nephews, and in-laws are also present. The photographs of Field provide a pictorial history of the poet from the 1940s through 1993.

Some of Field’s friends who appear in the photographs are Arthur Gregor, Fred Kuh, Daisy Aldan, Robert Friend, Millen Brand, David Del Tredici, Betty Deran, Avel de Knight, Alex Gildzen, Elia Braca, Dimitris Karageorghia, Arthur Gregor, Robert Peters, Paul Trachtenburg, Herman Rose, Naomi Lazard, Betty Deran, Alma Routsong, Ralph Pomeroy, Remy Charlip, Tobias Schneebaum.

The Edward Field papers are a thorough and engaging portrait of the life and work of this American poet, as well as the individuals who are part of his life.


  • Creation: 1943-1994


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

This collection contains audiovisual media that has been reformatted. Please contact manuscripts staff for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical Note

American poet and editor Edward Field was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 7, 1924. Field, one of six children, was reared in Lynbrook, Long Island, by his Russian- and Polish-born parents, Louis and Hilda Field. Field’s experiences as a child of Jewish ancestry growing up during the 1930s and early 1940s in this working class neighborhood are reflected in his poetry.

As a member of the Army Air Force during World War II, Field flew more than twenty-five missions as a navigator in heavy bombers. His poem “World War II” narrates his survival of a crash in the North Sea during one of his missions over Europe. Although Field dabbled with poetry during his wartime duty, it was during his return to Europe from 1946 to 1948 that he seriously worked at writing poetry. Field’s association with expatriate American poet Robert Friend and his introduction to the work of Greek poet Constantine Cavafy influenced his development as a poet.

After briefly attending New York University, where he first met writer Alfred Chester, whose literary legacy he continues to champion, Field worked at a variety of jobs. In 1956 he began studying the method-acting technique with Russian emigre Vera Soloviova. Since his training and work as an actor encouraged him to explore his emotions, Field considers it a factor in his development as a poet. The techniques were particularly applicable to reading his poetry in public, providing him with a livelihood during the 1960s and 1970s. He has read his poetry at the Library of Congress and universities throughout the United States, and taught workshops at the Poetry Center (New York YMHA) and several colleges.

Prior to his first published collection of poetry, Field’s poems appeared in such literary magazines as Botteghe Oscure, Evergreen Review, Kenyon Review, The New York Review of Books, Exquisite Corpse, Partisan Review, Poetry, and American Poetry Review.

Edward Field’s first book, Stand Up, Friend, With Me (1963), won the Lamont Poetry Selection award in 1962. The success of Stand Up, Friend, With Me prompted further publications and reading tours, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship (1963–1964). Field has also been honored with the Shelley Memorial Award (1975), the American Academy in Rome Fellowship in Creative Writing (1981), and the Lambda Literary Award in Poetry (1993).

Other published collections of Field’s poetry include Variety Photoplays (1967 and 1979), A Full Heart (1977), Stars in My Eyes (1977), New and Selected Poems from the Book of My Life (1987), and Counting Myself Lucky: Selected Poems, 1963–1992 (1992). Field also edited A Geography of Poets and co-edited, with Gerald Locklin and Charles Stetler, a revision titled A New Geography of Poets in 1992.

Besides being an accomplished poet, Field has edited anthologies of poetry and written the narration for the documentary film To Be Alive, which won an Academy Award for best documentary short subject in 1965. His editing has included the work of Alfred Chester, whose literary reputation he continues to revive. Field is the editor of The Alfred Chester Newsletter and has edited Black Sparrow Press’s publications of Head of a Sad Angel: stories, 1953–1966 (1990) and Looking for Genet (1992).

Field’s literary talents also extend to fiction. Using the pseudonym “Bruce Elliot,” he has collaborated with his companion, Neil Derrick, in writing three popular novels, The Potency Clinic (1978), Village (1982), and The Office (1987).

Although Field makes regular trips to Europe, his permanent residence is New York City.

Gwynn, R. S. (ed.) American Poets Since World War II. Second Series. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Volume 105. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1991. pp. 95-103. Some biographical information is derived from the collection.


21 linear foot


The Edward Field papers consist of twenty-one linear feet of the personal and literary papers which document the life and writing career of American writer and poet Edward Field (b. 1924) from 1943–1994.


The Edward Field Papers are arranged in three series.

Series I. Writing by Edward Field includes subseries for his poetry, books written with Neil Derrick, prose, plays, journals, miscellaneous and unidentified writing, as well as collections of magazines and journals, books, and the work of Long Beach poets. Some of the books from this series were removed and cataloged for the book collections in Special Collections. The entries for each book indicate whether the book remains with the collection or has been removed.

Series II. Personal and Professional Correspondence contains Field’s mailing lists, files of business correspondence, permissions files, send-out files for both poetry and prose, and files of correspondence related to appearances and publicity. The series also includes personal letters sent to Field from friends and family, and, occasionally, drafts of his replies.

Series III. Personal Papers includes identification and membership cards, address books, appointment calendars, files related to awards and a Guggenheim application, financial records, material related to Field’s acting career, and articles about Field. The series also includes a substantial number of photographs of Field, his family, and friends.

Since the arrangement in each series and subseries varies, the description notes for series or subseries specify the arrangement. Oversize material removed from the folders (indicated by removal sheets) has been placed in oversize boxes 15-17.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, 1994

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0340 Edward Field Alfred Chester archives

MSS 0799, University of Delaware Library collection of websites relating to the Library’s literary collections. This web archive collection contains one or more websites relating to Field's life and work.

Shelving Summary

Boxes 1-14: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons

Box 15: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (17 inches)

Box 16: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (20 inches)

Box 17: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (32 inches)

Processing Information

Processed by Anita A. Wellner, 1997–1998. Encoded by Natalie Baur, March 2010. Further encoding by Lauren Connolly, February 2016.

Finding aid for Edward Field papers
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2010 March 18
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA